'At The Word "Farewell"' by Thomas Hardy
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She looked like a bird from a cloud
On the clammy lawn,
Moving alone, bare-browed
In the dim of dawn.
The candles alight in the room
For my parting meal
Made all things withoutdoors loom
Strange, ghostly, unreal.
The hour itself was a ghost,
And it seemed to me then
As of chances the chance furthermost
I should see her again.
I beheld not where all was so fleet
That a Plan of the past
Which had ruled us from birthtime to meet
Was in working at last:
No prelude did I there perceive
To a drama at all,
Or foreshadow what fortune might weave
From beginnings so small;
But I rose as if quicked by a spur
I was bound to obey,
And stepped through the casement to her
Still alone in the gray.
"I am leaving you . . . Farewell!" I said,
As I followed her on
By an alley bare boughs overspread;
"I soon must be gone!"
Even then the scale might have been turned
Against love by a feather,
- But crimson one cheek of hers burned
When we came in together.
Editor 1 Interpretation
At The Word "Farewell" by Thomas Hardy: A Profound Exploration of Love and Loss
Thomas Hardy's poem "At The Word 'Farewell'" is a beautiful and heart-wrenching exploration of the pain of separation and the deep emotions that are triggered by the end of a relationship. Through its vivid imagery, powerful metaphors, and poignant language, the poem captures the essence of the human experience of love and loss, and leaves a lasting impression on the reader's mind.
A Close Reading of the Poem
The poem begins with a simple statement: "She smiled, but we part". These words immediately set the tone for the poem, and establish the central theme of separation and loss. The smile of the woman in the poem is both an expression of affection and a poignant reminder of the impending farewell. The juxtaposition of these two emotions creates a sense of tension and ambiguity, and sets the stage for the deeper exploration of the poem.
The second stanza describes the narrator's reaction to the woman's smile, and reveals the depth of his feelings for her. He says that her smile "seemed like a sudden parting gift". This metaphorical language creates a sense of poignancy and sadness, as if the woman's smile is a final token of love that will soon be lost. The use of the word "sudden" suggests that the narrator was not expecting the smile, and that it caught him off guard. This adds to the sense of unpredictability and uncertainty that permeates the poem.
The third stanza introduces the central metaphor of the poem, which is the comparison of the woman's departure to the setting sun. The narrator describes how "Her face passed from me like a wandering star", and how "The trysting-time was done". These lines create a sense of finality and inevitability, as if the woman's departure is as natural and unstoppable as the passing of time itself. The use of the word "trysting-time" is particularly effective, as it implies a sense of intimacy and secrecy, and creates a sense of nostalgia for the moments that the narrator and the woman shared.
The fourth stanza continues the metaphor of the setting sun, and describes how the woman's departure has created a sense of darkness and emptiness in the narrator's life. He says that "The haunts of our high love were full of night", and that "The hour was one of sombre red". These lines create a sense of desolation and despair, as if the absence of the woman has created a void that cannot be filled. The use of the word "sombre" is particularly effective, as it suggests a sense of darkness and gloom, and creates a sense of foreboding for the future.
The fifth stanza describes the narrator's thoughts and feelings as he contemplates the end of the relationship. He says that "I looked and saw no morning in your eyes". This line creates a sense of finality and resignation, as if the narrator has accepted that the relationship is over and that there is no hope for reconciliation. The use of the word "morning" is particularly effective, as it suggests a sense of hope and renewal, and creates a sense of contrast with the darkness and despair of the previous stanzas.
The sixth and final stanza of the poem describes the narrator's ultimate acceptance of the woman's departure, and his acknowledgement of the inevitability of change and loss. He says that "All changes pass me like a dream", and that "I neither sing nor pray". These lines create a sense of detachment and resignation, as if the narrator has come to terms with the fact that everything in life is impermanent and transitory. The use of the word "dream" is particularly effective, as it suggests a sense of unreality and insignificance, and creates a sense of contrast with the vivid imagery and powerful metaphors of the previous stanzas.
Interpretation of the Poem
"At The Word 'Farewell'" is a deeply emotional and insightful poem that explores the complex themes of love, loss, and acceptance. The poem can be interpreted in a variety of ways, depending on the reader's own experiences and perspectives. Some possible interpretations include:
The poem can be seen as a reflection of Hardy's own experiences with love and loss. Hardy was known to have had a tumultuous love life, and may have drawn on his own personal experiences to create the poignant imagery and powerful metaphors of the poem.
The poem can be interpreted as a commentary on the nature of love and relationships. The poem suggests that love is a fleeting and transitory emotion, and that relationships are subject to the whims of fate and circumstance. The poem also suggests that the pain of separation and loss is an inevitable part of the human experience.
The poem can be seen as a meditation on the passage of time and the impermanence of all things. The metaphor of the setting sun suggests that everything in life is subject to change and decay, and that nothing can last forever. The poem suggests that acceptance of this impermanence is a key to finding peace and contentment in life.
In conclusion, "At The Word 'Farewell'" is a profound and deeply moving poem that explores the complex themes of love, loss, and acceptance. Through its vivid imagery, powerful metaphors, and poignant language, the poem captures the essence of the human experience of love and loss, and leaves a lasting impression on the reader's mind. Whether read as a reflection of Hardy's own experiences, a commentary on the nature of love and relationships, or a meditation on the impermanence of all things, the poem remains a timeless and universal expression of the human condition.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry At The Word "Farewell" by Thomas Hardy is a classic poem that captures the essence of parting and the emotions that come with it. The poem is a reflection of the pain and sorrow that one feels when saying goodbye to a loved one. It is a poignant reminder of the transience of life and the inevitability of change.
The poem is structured in four stanzas, each with four lines. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, and the meter is iambic tetrameter. The use of rhyme and meter gives the poem a musical quality that adds to its emotional impact.
The first stanza sets the tone for the poem. The speaker is bidding farewell to a loved one, and the word "farewell" is repeated twice, emphasizing the finality of the parting. The use of the word "cold" to describe the hand that is being held adds to the sense of loss and separation.
In the second stanza, the speaker reflects on the past and the memories that will be left behind. The use of the word "ghost" to describe the memories is haunting and adds to the sense of melancholy. The line "And time, with all its changeful power" emphasizes the inevitability of change and the passing of time.
The third stanza is perhaps the most emotional of the four. The speaker expresses the pain and sorrow that comes with parting. The use of the word "sigh" to describe the breath that is taken adds to the sense of sadness. The line "And yet, methinks, a little while" suggests that the speaker is holding on to hope that they will be reunited with their loved one.
The final stanza brings the poem to a close. The speaker acknowledges that they must say goodbye, but they do so with the hope that they will be reunited in the future. The use of the word "smile" to describe the parting adds a sense of warmth and positivity to the poem.
Overall, Poetry At The Word "Farewell" is a beautiful and poignant poem that captures the emotions of parting. The use of rhyme and meter adds to the musical quality of the poem, while the repetition of the word "farewell" emphasizes the finality of the parting. The poem is a reminder that life is transient and that we must cherish the moments we have with our loved ones.
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